So Kohli’s boys are all set to start the voyage down under. During a long 2 months tour during Nov.18 – Jan. 19, India will play 3 T-20s, 4 Test matches and 3 ODIs.
India’s tour to Australia is one of the most awaited affairs for Cricket freak like me. As such in international Cricket calendar, Australia has its unambiguous niche place. If the game of Cricket has evolved to what it is today; it is Australia who deserves most of the credit.
Kerry Packer shook the whole world in the late seventies with his parallel leagues in Australia but in the process, the game got a major makeover. It gave birth to things like day-night matches, coloured clothing and white balls, which fraternity accepted gleefully. Not only that, but Australia also revolutionized the broadcasting of the game with the feature like stump camera and multiple cameras in the ground. Moreover, it is a real delight to watch Cricket on the lush green vintage jumbo sized ground in Australia with the charged up crowd and competitive Australian side.
This Indian tour is special in a sense that Kohli and company have the opportunity to write history and that is to become first ever Indian team to win a Test series in Australia. After all, it is one of the better Test sides of India (if not the best) is going to take on unarguably one of weakest Australian side in recent years.
It is really tough to assimilate the fact that India yet to win a Test series in Australia. In 1981, India drew the series but Australia was dominating and it was an outstanding spirited Indian bowling performance at Melbourne which gave India an unexpected victory.
India, however, had the first real chance to win a series in Australia in 1985-86. If was a strong Indian side under the captaincy of Kapil Dev against an Australian side which was under the process of rebuilding. In Melbourne, when India was close to the victory when the rain came to rescue Australia on the fifth day. In fact with little better luck, India should have won the Sydney Test as well.
In 2003-04 India was pretty close to win the Test series. After that memorable victory at the Adelaide, India had a perfect start in Melbourne when rampant Sehwag scored 195 on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test in 2003. But then there was a batting collapse and India lost the Test from a very good position. In Sydney, riding on a magnificent double century India piled up 700 plus. Australia was on the back foot but then playing in his last Test Steve Waugh played a gritty knock on the fifth day and bailed out his side.
In 2018-19, Kohli has the chance to achieve what Kapil missed in 1985-86 and Sourav Ganguly missed in 2003-04. Notwithstanding series loss in England this summer, India presently has a very strong Test side. It has one of the best ever and inclusive pace attack, which can potentially excel in the Australian condition. Kohli himself is at the peak of his career and batting form. India, however, needs to fix its opening issues. The form of KL Rahul will be a huge critical success factor for India. Kohli also needs to fix middle order woes as Rahane and Pujara’s form remain somewhat indifferent. It is to be seen that whether Rohit Sharma fits into India’s Test plans after his failure in South Africa. His current batting form makes a case for him for sure.
Comprised of Ashwin, Jadeja, Chahal and Kuldeep, the spin attack looks complete. Normally in Australia, it is difficult to play more than spinner in Test playing eleven and like in England, Kohli will have a difficult task in hand to pick one out of these. Ganguly once admitted that most difficult task for him was to tell Kumble in Australia that Kumble was not in the playing eleven as Harbhajan was picked. Kohli will face a similar dilemma.
On the other hand, Australia sans Steve Smith and Warner is certainly a depleted side. But still, they have a potent pace bowling attack. Mitchell Strac can create problems for Indian batsman. But Indians need to be watchful against the seasoned spinner Nathan Lyon as he can be dangerous. He can do to Indians what Moen Ali did to them during India’s tour to England in 2014.
All in all, India can capitalize on the depleted Australian side, provided batsmen (led by Kohli of course) negotiate with Australian bowling well.
Outstanding Cricket is on the cards for the next 60 days. Virat Kohli must be eager to lead his boys down under and would like to see his name in the history books, as the only Test series winning Indian captain in Australia.
And finally, 6th December is the most awaited day when India will play the first Test of the series at the Adelaide Oval, the ground which has a special connection with Kohli. Kohli has scored 3 Test centuries at this ground in 2 Test matches he has played there. Kohli would be eager to further add to this tally.
(The author is NewsMobile iJourno. Views are personal)